The government have released information this week on their new electrical safety standards in the private rented sector. As a landlord, you’ll need to make sure you’re complying with these rules, which include new inspection and testing requirements for your tenancies. If you don’t you could face a fine of up to £30,000.
The changes apply to new tenancies from 1 July 2020, and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. They’re designed to improve tenant safety.
You can read the full regulations on the government’s publications hub.
A key feature of the ruling is inspection. Landlords will need to make sure all electrical installations in their property are inspected and tested by a qualified person every five years (at least).
You’re legally obliged to supply a copy of the inspection and test report to new, existing and prospective tenants, as well as your local authority if they ask for it. Here are the timescales you’ll need to work to:
The report should set a date for your next inspection and test, and you’ll need to keep a copy for the next inspector.
The national standards for electrical safety are set out in the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’. You can find these on gov.uk, and may need to talk them through with a qualified electrician.
Any remedial work required in your report needs to be completed within 28 days of the test report (or a shorter time period, if specified). Your electrician will need to give written confirmation that they’ve completed this work for you, to the tenant and local authority, within 28 days of finishing the job.
All new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021 will need to comply. This will usually include assured shorthold tenancies, licences to occupy, and certain Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
There are exceptions, including social housing tenants, lodgers, long leases of seven years or more, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, and specific healthcare accommodation. All of these will carry their own regulations, though, so read up on the different types of tenancy and make sure you’re meeting them.
Aside from the regulations outlined above, you’ll need to make sure your inspection and testing are booked in, and your installations are safe.
They’ll need to be ‘qualified and competent’, and you’ll need to get the test repeated every five years. Use gov.uk for guidance on how to find a qualified person.
Ahead of the test, make sure you’re clear on where all the relevant installations are, if possible. These will include your fixed electrical parts (such as wiring), socket outlets (or plug sockets), light fittings, consumer unit (or fuse box) and permanently connected equipment like showers and extractors.
Tenants are responsible for making sure their own appliances are safe.
You might find it difficult to carry out your safety checks right now, and the government recognises this. For example, if your tenant has been advised to shield or isolate their household, your inspection and test may need to be postponed.
If this is the case, you’ll need to show you’ve taken all reasonable steps to comply with the regulations, even if you’re not yet able to complete the inspection, test or any remedial works.
For more guidance on Covid-19, read through our coronavirus landlord support hub.
Will Covid-19 make it difficult for you to comply? Let us know in the comments.
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